Governor Martin O’Malley today planted a tree with the Maryland Forest Brigade, helping the inmate work program surpass its goal of planting one million trees on public lands. The Governor planted the tree at Merkle Wildlife Sanctuary in Upper Marlboro.
“This tree marks an important milestone and a shining example of our dedicated State agencies working together,” said Governor O”Malley. “Today we celebrate the one-millionth tree of this program — but every Marylander can make an impact. It only takes one tree to improve water quality, air quality and property values. It’s a small investment with a large, long-term payoff.”
Governor O’Malley’s Marylanders Plant Trees initiative was launched in 2009 with two distinct goals: to have the State – using inmate labor – plant one million trees by 2011, and to inspire citizens to plant 50,000 trees by end of year 2010. Both goals have now been met.
Through a partnership among the Maryland Departments of Natural Resources (DNR), Public Safety and Correctional Services (DPSCS) and Transportation’s (MDOT) State Highway Administration (SHA), The Forest Brigade planted 152,300 in 2009 and 399,410 in 2010, and surpassed a million with 505,100 this year.
SHA provided $800,000 in funding to buy the trees though a Federal Highway Administration Transportation Enhancement Program Grant, and also, participates in the site review process to ensure environmental requirements are met. DNR provides public lands, logistics planning, forestry expertise, labor and materials (trees, equipment, etc.). DPSCS contributes inmate labor based upon the needs of each site.
“Above and beyond the 1 million tree cooperative effort, SHA invests in a number of environmental stewardship projects from planting additional trees on State Highway land along Maryland highways to stream restorations in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed,” said Transportation Secretary Beverley K. Swaim-Staley. “MDOT’s Office of the Environment oversees a number of efforts throughout our transportation network, from improving air quality through reduced emissions to improving water quality through better storm-water management.”
Planting trees and other community based Public Safety Works projects of DPSCS are providing opportunities to help rehabilitate Maryland’s incarcerated offenders. On any given day there are approximately 400 minimum security offenders working on projects that range from tree planting, to building oyster cages, to cleaning up local parks, cemeteries and recreation areas. They teach job skills that can be used upon release to find employment, a number one barrier to reentry, while also creating connections back to the local community.
“Doing this provides an inmate the chance to give back to the society they harmed, to be a part of something bigger then themselves – a significant part of rehabilitation,” stated DPSCS Secretary Gary D. Maynard. “Most importantly, these public works projects teach basic work habits and soft skills used daily in the workplace. Skills most of us take for granted, but which some offenders have never had the chance to learn or develop.”
The 39 planting sites across the state were strategically chosen to maximize environmental benefits. A recent benefit analysis calculated that the million trees planted reduces polluted stormwater by about 10 million gallons a year, which is about 17 Olympic sized swimming pools and reduces the State’s Carbon footprint by 1.7 million pounds a year, which can offset CO2 emissions for 115 cars.
“As these trees grow and mature, so will their impact on our natural resources,” said DNR secretary John Griffin. “Fifteen years from now, when these trees reach maturity, the benefits will be eight times greater.”
Through our citizen program, Marylanders have planted and registered 55,448 trees surpassing the original goal of 50,000. On Arbor Day 2011, Governor O’Malley announced a new citizen goal of 100,000 trees by the end of 2012—an additional 50,000.
In cooperation with participating nurseries, the Marylanders Plant Trees program continues to offer $25 coupons toward the purchase of native trees costing $50 or more, and redeemable at nearly 83 nurseries with at least one in every county in the State. DNR is encouraging Marylanders to register every tree they plant. Not only will they be eligible for prizes, but they will be able to see the environmental benefits of their tree through interactive maps and charts. For more information, a list of prizes, and to register a tree, go to www.trees.maryland.gov/index.aspp